Review: “Dumb and Dumber To”

Imagine for a moment that 2003’s disastrous “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” never happened and that 1994’s hilarious “Dumb and Dumber” was left untainted as a comedy classic. Having laid dormant for 20 years, would a resurrection of those characters in a not-particularly-asked-for sequel work? The humorously titled “Dumb and Dumber To” is here to answer that question and, sadly, it’s a mixed bag. If the original film can be considered a classic while the ill-advised prequel exemplifies bottom-of-the-barrel comedy, then “Dumb and Dumber To” rests squarely in between.

The catalyst that gets our dimwitted duo out on the road again involves a discovery that Harry (Jeff Daniels), against all odds, has a grown daughter. It turns out that an evening he spent with the beautiful Fraida, who has since grown into an old bag played by Kathleen Turner, produced a baby. So he, along with Lloyd (Jim Carrey), who has spent the last 20 years in a psychiatric hospital just so he could play a joke on Harry, sets out to meet her at an upcoming convention where she will be speaking. Along with them is Travis (Rob Riggle) and a box of unimaginable worth, the contents of which could change the world forever. However, Travis has an ulterior motive, and only dumb luck is going to protect Harry and Lloyd and get them where they need to go.

Which is, of course, the entire conceit of the movie. As with the first film, the duo is oblivious to what is actually going on around them as they stumble into different scenarios that play out in ways that could only be dreamed up in a Hollywood screenplay. Luckily, those scenarios are relatively entertaining, even if they include some unnecessary shoehorning in of characters and props from the first movie. You’ll remember the “pretty bird” blind kid, the Mutt Cutts van and more, though they appear for mere minutes, if that, before disappearing into oblivion. While these moments serve as welcome fanfare for those that remember watching the original 20 years ago, they nevertheless do little to enhance the overall movie.

Many jokes from the first film are repeated as well, but there’s plenty of new content here to make up for it. Aside from a handful of set-ups that pay off later in the film, gags come fast and furious and both Carrey and Daniels, who are now in their 50s, are game to pull them off. Neither of them have missed a beat in the gap between movies, particularly Carrey, who is just as absurd as you remember him. “Dumb and Dumber To” often falls back on slapstick, which I consider to be the lowest form of humor, but if there’s anyone that can pull it off, it’s Jim Carrey and Daniels perfectly complements him. Even at the film’s worst, they’re fascinating to watch together.

What else can really be said about this movie? Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s not, but it knows what it’s doing. These are dumb characters in dumb situations doing dumb things and making dumb jokes, which is the entire point. “Dumb and Dumber To” doesn’t advertise itself as anything else and delivers exactly what people going to see it will want. If you’re one of those people and can set the proper expectations, there’s no doubt enjoyment will be had. This is no classic, but “Dumb and Dumber To” is good for some cheap laughs.